The pressure to integrate information technology into curriculum, instruction, and assessment is often misguided. Teachers are pushed to add technology, both software and hardware, to their already full plates, often with little support. When supporting teachers in making decisions about technology, an important framework to keep in mind is the SAMR model.
The SAMR model was developed by Ruben R. Puentedura, Ph.D. (read more at his blog here). This model categorizes technology use in the classroom into four levels: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. Dr. Puentedura proposes that the level of integration should fit the task and that increasing the level must fit the needs of the students. Each level is described below and a delicious food metaphor is provided as an added layer of description.
Integration occurs at the first level, substitution, when the technology is utilized without substantial difference from the traditional. In short, the task is the same, but using some form of technology. At this level, the choice of technology makes a marginal impact on the final product. Using the metaphor of food, you would substitute eating in or taking out when going to a restaurant for pizza. Either choice makes little difference to the process and end result. Examples of substitution in the classroom would include using an e-reader or tablet without interactive features to read text, using a computer to view a map or photo, or using word processor software for simple typing.
Integration occurs at the second level, augmentation, when technology replaces the traditional with some improvements. In augmentation, the task is likely the same, while the technology makes it easier or more efficient. Using the food metaphor, we might use some device to call ahead our order for pick-up or delivery or even use the restaurant website to order, increasing efficiency. Examples include using the revision functions (Spelling and Grammar check) in Microsoft Office, adding pictures or diagrams to an essay, collaborating on a shared document through Google Drive or DropBox. The technology improves the process and product, but not in a significant way.
When integration occurs at the third and fourth levels, the use of technology moves from a mode of enhancement to one of transformation. At the third level, Modification, the task is significantly redesigned. Using the food metaphor, purchasing a pizza from the supermarket and baking it in the oven at home would represent modification. We now take a more active role in the creation of the meal and add a bit of ourselves. In the classroom, students might write an essay, then make the essay public through a presentation that integrates animation and a soundtrack.
At the fourth level, Redefinition, the technology allows for tasks to occur that could not without the use of technology. At this level, technology is not “one more thing on the plate.” It is a new plate (and kitchen for that matter). Using the pizza metaphor, we now start with fresh dough made from scratch, topped with vegetables we grew in our garden, and baked in our very own brick oven. We are now intensely involved in the creation of our meal in ways that were not previously possible. In the classroom, students use their math skill to design and code their own game, create short films with unique soundtracks using tablets, and build and program robotic creations to accomplish challenging tasks.
In conclusion, integrating technology is not an easy task. It can very easily feel like adding that one more thing to our plate that is not worth the time. With intentional planning and decision making based on the SAMR model, technology integration can be more rewarding and impactful (and might be as enjoyable as eating your favorite slice of pizza). Delicious!